Simultaneous acquisition of 4D ultrasound and wireless electromagnetic tracking for in-vivo accuracy validation

  • 1 Institute for Robotics and Cognitive Systems, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany
  • 2 Department of Clinical Medicine – The Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Nørrebrogade 44, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


Ultrasound is being increasingly investigated for real-time target localization in image-guided interventions. Yet, in-vivo validation remains challenging due to the difficulty to obtain a reliable ground truth. For this purpose, real-time volumetric (4D) ultrasound imaging was performed simultaneously with electromagnetic localization of three wireless transponders implanted in the liver of a radiotherapy patient. 4D ultrasound and electromagnetic tracking were acquired at framerates of 12Hz and 8Hz, respectively, during free breathing over 8 min following treatment. The electromagnetic antenna was placed directly above and the ultrasound probe on the right side of the patient to visualize the liver transponders. It was possible to record 25.7 s of overlapping ultrasound and electromagnetic position data of one transponder. Good spatial alignment with 0.6 mm 3D root-mean-square error between both traces was achieved using a rigid landmark transform. However, data acquisition was impaired since the electromagnetic tracking highly influenced the ultrasound equipment and vice versa. High intensity noise streaks appeared in the ultrasound scan lines irrespective of the chosen frequency (1.7-3.3 MHz, 2/4 MHz harmonic). To allow for target visualization and tracking in the ultrasound volumes despite the artefacts, an online filter was designed where corrupted pixels in the newest ultrasound frame were replaced with non-corrupted pixels from preceding frames. Aside from these artefacts, the recorded electromagnetic tracking data was fragmented and only the transponder closest to the antenna could be detected over a limited period of six consecutive breathing cycles. This problem was most likely caused by interference from the metal holder of the ultrasound probe and was solved in a subsequent experiment using a 3D-printed non-metal probe fixation. Real-time wireless electromagnetic tracking was compared with 4D ultrasound imaging in-vivo for the first time. For stable tracking, large metal components need to be avoided during data acquisition and ultrasound filtering is required.

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Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering is an open access journal and closely related to the journal Biomedical Engineering - Biomedizinische Technik. CDBME is a forum for the exchange of knowledge in the fields of biomedical engineering, medical information technology and biotechnology/bioengineering for medicine and addresses engineers, natural scientists, and clinicians working in research, industry, or clinical practice.